Four Loko: When a Good Sound Spanking is Warranted

It’s a story that’s a lot more complicated than it needs to be, full of posturing and politics, but in the end it’s good to know that every once in a while the brat gets the spanking he deserves.

This stuff here is a college kid’s dream, which is fitting because it is the brainchild of three Ohio State alums. The big boys — Anheuser-Busch, Coors — played with the idea but decided the sand was too shallow in that sandbox.

The brats soldiered on, promoting their brand through sponsored drinking tournaments and all-you-can-drink parties. By now we’ve all heard about casualties at the Washington party, which authorities first blamed on the date-rape drug (that’s a mighty good way to call attention to yourself; make the police feel stupid), and a rapid succession of deaths and injuries associated with the drink. None of the victims, to my knowledge, was force fed, which means this isn’t a criminal matter but a series of competitors for the Darwin Award.

The company’s announcement that it will pull caffeine from its Four Loko drinks comes with all the frat-boy swagger you’d expect: blaming the Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau for approving the drinks in the first place, comparing Four Loko to “rum and colas and Irish coffees,” whining that they must take this drastic step “after trying — unsuccessfully — to navigate a difficult and politically charged regulatory environment.” They take a moment to trumpet their “leadership, cooperation, and responsible corporate citizenship.”

Yeah, yeah, whatever. Any mother who has ignored her kid’s grumbling when he puts on his warm coat, washes his face, or comes home by curfew knows that, sometimes, tossing the battle means winning the war. Gripe all you want, boys.

It seems ridiculous that this drink has drawn the attention it has — stories on CNN, investigations by state attorneys general — but of course it’s just the latest in a long line of signifiers, cultural signposts leading to the question of who is looking after the children. Louder than Ed Hardy t-shirts and ass-skimming skirts, this drink screams, “I am a rebellious teenager! Forever young! (even if I’m 25)!”

Chronological ages be damned; this is a product conceived of by kids and marketed to kids and abused by kids. Someone has to be the grown-up here. In a culture where children can be adults and adults can be children, sometimes all that works is a good smack on the bottom.

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Published in: on November 17, 2010 at 8:58 AM  Leave a Comment  
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